Perhaps no player has made a bigger difference to the Georgia offense this year than wide receiver Lawrence Cager. At the very least, no player has had a bigger impact on Jake Fromm.
The numbers between when Cager has been on the field than off-field have been staggering. As dug up by ESPN’s David Hale, Fromm’s numbers are night and day different from when Cager is on the field to when he is off it.
Fromm’s completion percentage and yards per attempt with Cager on the field: 73.3 percent and 10.8. With Cager off the field — which has been the case for much of the Texas A&M and Auburn games — those numbers dip to 45.7 percent and 6.03 yards per attempt.
So I don’t have personnel groupings for last week yet, but WOW you’re spot on…
Throws beyond line of scrimmage for Fromm…
Cager on field: 73.3% comp, 9 TD, 1 INT, 190.1 passer rating, 10.8 yd/att
Cager off field: 45.7% comp, 5 TD, 2 INT, 107.2 passer rating, 6.03 yd/att https://t.co/0zIgKrC2CI
— 🍺🍗🌽🥔🥧🍷🏈😴 (@ADavidHaleJoint) November 27, 2019
It became clear that in Georgia’s biggest games, Fromm felt very comfortable funneling the ball to Cager. He led Georgia in receiving in both the Notre Dame and Florida games. In those two games, he finished with 12 catches for 214 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Now with Cager sustaining what sources are calling a “serious” ankle injury — to go along with his preexisting rib and shoulder injuries — Georgia’s struggling passing offense is going to have to find a way to become more effective. And that falls on the arm and mind of Fromm.
In each of the past three games, Fromm has completed fewer than 50 percent of his passes. Some of that can be attributed to opposing defenses or the weather, but Fromm has reiterated he must improve.
“If I want to be as good as I want to be, I’ve got to hit those shots,” Fromm said after the Texas A&M win.
Despite the numbers drop off, Fromm hasn’t been as awful as some might feel. He did complete four of his five fourth-quarter pass attempts, including a key 11-yard gain to freshman Dominick Blaylock on Georgia’s final drive. Much of Fromm’s inaccuracy against Texas A&M came during a downpour, while Fromm alternated between wearing a glove and not wearing one.
Good Call pic.twitter.com/lyznD18ElH
— Hiro Katsuki (@KatsukiFB) November 23, 2019
And there was a drive in the second quarter where Fromm ripped off two back-shoulder throws to Tyler Simmons and Kearis Jackson before finding freshman George Pickens in the endzone.
By now, Fromm and the Georgia offense are used to handling adversity when it comes to the wide receiver position. The Bulldogs saw Mecole Hardman and Riley Ridley depart early for the NFL draft. Jeremiah Holloman was dismissed from the team in June.
Without his No. 1 option now in Cager, Georgia is going to turn more to Pickens as an outside threat, while also targeting the likes of Blaylock and Robertson out of the slot. Blaylock leads the team in yards per reception, while Pickens has shown he’s completely capable of winning those 50-50 balls.
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) November 23, 2019
So now Fromm is going to have to trust two freshmen as Georgia’s biggest game of the year — the SEC championship game against LSU — looms. There’s also Kearis Jackson, Tyler Simmons, Robertson and Matt Landers as well.
But don’t expect Georgia to let it rip or for Fromm to start making more dangerous throws. He and Kirby Smart have stressed not turning the ball over this year.
“You want to take care of the football,” Fromm said. “I think our guys do a really good job doing that.”
The Bulldogs are 10-0 when Fromm does not turn the ball over this year, and 0-1 when he does.
But Georgia can’t just turtle up or try and rely solely on not turning the ball over or ask D’Andre Swift to carry Georgia to the College Football Playoff. Fromm has to make the throws that had some touting him as a first-round draft pick.
“You get an opportunity on first and 10 to make the plays that we have you’ve gotta make those,” Smart said after the Texas A&M game.” Some of that had to do with the execution. So we share in that.
Quarterbacks often get too much credit when a team wins and far too much blame if they lose. But with Fromm now without his top option once again, the Georgia quarterback is going to earn a whole lot of credit if he can guide Georgia back into the College Football Playoff.
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